The Pirates opened their season in Cincinnati today with a 5-2 loss, allowing 3 runs to be scored in the 8th after having the game tied 2-2. Tony Watson picks up the loss after a poor inning of relief after taking the mound for Francisco Liriano who lasted 7 innings and had 7 strikeouts. Andrew McCutchen led the Pirates with 2 hits and 2 rbi’s which came on an 8th inning home run off of Reds reliever Kevin Gregg. Aroldis Chapman was dominant in relief. The Pirates will resume the series on Wednesday with Gerrit Cole taking the mound.
The game was solid enough and the Pirates didn’t look outmatched, but there were a few things i noticed that give me pause. There were also a few things I noticed that calmed a few of my preseason fears. Put them together and what do you have?
The top 5 things I noticed from the season opener.
Jordy Mercer has the body language of a man who is going to lose his job in the next month or so —
I’m not claiming to have studied with Dr. Bill Simmons, but you can just see it in Mercer and it was the most noticeable item of the day for me. Mercer looks as if he knows his time is up as the starter given Kang’s spring and he is overwhelmed by what it would take to hold Kang off. I started noticing it when he almost got taken out by Starling Marte in the rain towards the beginning of the game. He looked like he had no clue what was going on and more than that he didn’t recover. He didn’t crack a joke, he didn’t yell, there was little communication. He just looked at everyone as if he was an outsider looking in.
Mercer is a solid player and I hope he has a great season, but I feel as if he is a starter or bust kind of player. As in if he gets the reps and at bats he could be a solid major league starting shortstop, but give some of those at bats to Kang and I don’t think Mercer becomes an elite bench player. I think he becomes another teams shortstop.
Andrew Lambo earned my respect with his pinch hit at bat —
I’ll be honest. I am biased. It hurts me to watch Andrew Lambo. He has AAAA player written all over him and I was slightly confused as to why the Pirates chose to break camp with him. However in his pinch hit at bat he took Kevin Gregg for a ride and got him to throw double digit pitches. He kept finding a way to get the foul tip and the one he got a hold of was only a little bit foul. Sure, in the end, he was out. Without his at bat though I find it unlikely Cutch gets his homer. Gregg had shown all his cards in the first at bat. Andrew Lambo will never be a starter for the Pirates, but if he can repeat tonight’s performance on a regular basis he will have a spot on the roster for the rest of the season.
Francisco Liriano is far from consistent but can still be dominant —
Liriano had a few moments where he looked a bit lost. He seemed distracted by the rain. It seemed to bother him that his shoes were so muddy. They scored 2 on him during that stretch. Then he got back into it. Started regaining control of the goofy guy. He went back to being a top of rotation pitcher. Liriano can be lights out on any night, just as he can be mediocre at best at any time. He has always seemed inconsistent to me and if he is our ace pitcher going into the playoffs it would be troubling. However if he is our number one or two pitcher he can earn some postseason wins and help the Buccos make their way to the world series.
Billy Hamilton’s teeth —
I hate to be mean but I would be a liar if I pretended that Billy Hamilton’s teeth weren’t among the top 5 things I noticed today. I know it’s not his fault. Its genetics. Its, you know, something. I don’t know man its just hard to look at him when he opens that mouth and I feel really bad for him. Maybe that is why he is so fast. He is simply trying to be a perma blur so no one gets a good look at those choppers.
I am cool with Francisco Cervelli —
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I am cool with Cervelli. I was on the fence, but today he impressed me. He is a solid catcher. He can hit. He knows his signs. He seems cool to me.